News / Science & Technology

Scientists Unveil Genetic Blueprint for Wheat

FILE - Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad, March 6, 2013.
FILE - Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad, March 6, 2013.
Reuters

As far as agricultural genome research goes, this may be the best thing since sliced bread - wheat bread, that is.

An international team of scientists on Thursday unveiled a genetic blueprint of wheat in an accomplishment that may help guide the breeding of varieties of the vitally important food crop that are more productive and more hardy.

Researchers who are part of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, formed in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientists and breeders, unveiled what they called a chromosome-based draft genome sequence of bread wheat, also known as common wheat.

The work makes it easier to identify genes controlling agriculturally important traits like yield, disease and pest resistance and drought tolerance, according to FrDedDeric Choulet, a plant genomicist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), one of the lead researchers.

“Bread wheat is a major crop. It is the most widely grown crop around the world and is a staple food for one third of the human population. However, its genome is so complex that it has always been perceived as impossible to sequence,” Choulet said.

“Wheat improvement is crucial to ensure food security and the development of sustainable agriculture in a context of climate change and growing population,” Choulet added.

The large, repetitive nature of the wheat genome has complicated efforts to decipher it.

The research, published in the journal Science, encompasses nearly all the genes of bread wheat, whose scientific name is Triticum aestivum, and roughly 60 percent of the whole genome. The researchers estimate that wheat has about 124,000 genes and that its genome is 40 times larger than rice and seven times larger than corn, both of whose genomes have been deciphered.

The wheat genome also is more than five times larger than the human genome, the researchers noted.

The new work also included a comprehensive look at the largest of wheat's 21 chromosomes.

The researchers underscored the need to develop new and better wheat varieties.

“The world is facing enormous challenges with a human population projected to rise to over nine billion by 2050. Food production will need to increase by over 50 percent without expanding land use in the face of a changing climate and with dwindling availability of fertilizers, water and effective pest treatment,” the consortium said in a statement.

The researchers noted that wheat is a versatile plant that can be grown in a range of environments and that its grain can be stored easily and turned into flour to make a lot of different kinds of food.

The consortium has set a goal of finishing the full genome within three years.

“We have a clear path forward for completing high quality sequences of all bread wheat chromosomes,” said Kellye Eversole, the consortium's executive director.

The consortium said it has been a challenge to secure funding for the effort in part because investment in wheat research is generally lower than for some other major crops despite its importance as a food source.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid